Kristina Echevarria

Investigating the Social Influence of Dystopian Literature

I’m eager to understand the social influence Dystopian literature has on marginalized youth between 12 to 18 years old. Specifically, how does reading and engaging with Dystopian literature affect the perceptions, sense of realities, and aspirations of low-income, female youth of color in modern American society? How does Dystopian literature play a role in engaging
young adults in today’s cultural and political revolutions, influence their personal agency and provide an outlet for imagining their possible futurities?
Prior research has focused on dystopian literature and the overarching genre of speculative fiction as literary agents, solely focusing on the writing styles and popularity of the genre. Few works have looked at the social implications (Jonathan Alexander, Henry A. Giroux etc.) of this genre but they fail to engage with a specific population of readers. Sami Schalk does disrupt this trend, however, by looking at the significance of science fiction and speculative fiction in relation to black women and the notion of (dis)ablity (Schalk, 2018). Other research efforts, such as that of Michael Benton and Janice Radway, have framed the conversation for understanding reader engagement with literature through interrogating reader response theory/criticism yet this framework remains underutilized in the conversation of young readers’ responses and particularly their engagements with Dystopian literature (Benton, 1993; Radway 1991). My research will address the gap in literature between using dystopian texts as merely a literary agent and understanding the actual engagement with this genre of literature by focusing on marginalized youth populations and their response to the act of reading and engaging with Dystopian literature.